A superthin solar cell is so light it can balance on a soap bubble.
MIT researchers have just created the thinnest, lightest solar cell ever — as light as a soap bubble, in fact.
These tiny, lightweight, superthin solar cells could be placed on virtually any surface, and while it’s years away from the market, it could spark a revolution in solar technology, according to an MIT statement.
Professor Vladimir Bulovic and his colleagues described the technology in a study published in the journal Organic Electronics, is made within a vacuum to minimize exposure to dust or other contaminates.
This was essentially a proof of concept experiment, so more development work will be needed. To make it, the team used a flexible polymer called parylene to act as the substrate and the protective overcoating. The light-absorbing layer was made from DBP, an organic material.
Typical solar cells are made by using high temperatures and harsh chemicals, but in this case, the team was able to produce the cell in a vacuum at room temperature without any solvents at all.
These solar cells would be so thin, flexible, and lightweight that they could be placed on just about any surface — think your smartphone, a hat, or even a sheet of paper.
“The innovative step is the realization that you can grow the substrate at the same time as you grow the device,” Bulovic said in a statement, adding: “It could be so light that you don’t even know it’s there, on your shirt or on your notebook. These cells could simply be an add-on to existing structures.
“We have a proof-of-concept that works,” he continued. “How many miracles does it take to make it scalable? We think it’s a lot of hard work ahead, but likely no miracles needed.”